The revolving door at tight end continues for the New England Patriots as the team reportedly made another move at the position. In what’s been a long process to Rob Gronkowski, the Patriots latest move comes on the heels of an injury to Matt LaCosse.
As NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport reported, the Patriots signed former New York Giants and Jets tight end Eric Tomlinson to the 53-man roster.
Tomlinson has just 16 catches in his 39 career games, primarily serving as a blocker over the past few years. He spent the month of September with the Giants before being released on September 24. Prior to that, he was across the hall at Metlife Stadium spending parts of four seasons with the Jets, including the 2019 preseason.
He played in three games for the Giants this season, seeing seven total offensive snaps. He did not record a catch in any action this season.
To add some depth at key positions, the Patriots informed practice squad kicker Younghoe Koo of his release on Tuesday as well. Koo was one of several kickers who tried out for the open job following Stephen Gostkowski’s injury and was subsequently placed on the practice squad.
He spent time previously with the LA Chargers and played in the Alliance of American Football with the Atlanta Legends, going a perfect 14-for-14 during the league’s short tenure.
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Adding Tomlinson Means Roster Tinkering Ahead
With the move, the Patriots are setting up for some tinkering with the roster on Tuesday that could involve a trade, a cut, or an injury designation. With tight end Matt LaCosse already beat up this season, it may be as simple as placing him on injured reserve.
LaCosse suffered an MCL sprain last Thursday against the Giants but did return in a limited role to the contest following the injury. This is LaCosse’s second injury already this season as a preseason ankle injury kept him out of two earlier games.
It could also mean a trade is in the authing at the position still. New England has been linked to Tyler Eifert and O.J. Howard over the past week. Eifert, who has been with Cincinnati his entire career, may drive a high price despite his injury history.
As for Tampa Bay tight end Howard, he may be looking for a spot to resuscitate his career and New England may be the best fit. As a Patriot, he would instantly get playing time and could mold into an elite tight end quickly.
Potential Roles for Tomlinson With Patriots
Signing the former Giants’ tight end isn’t a move meant to help the receiving game. While he certainly can make catches if needed, Tomlinson is a strong blocker who could help the Patriots running game.
One solution might be to convert him into a full back. At 6-foot-6, 260-pounds, Tomlinson may be a little oversized for the backfield but could definitely open gaps for Patriots backs to sneak through.
Another reason to sign Tomlinson is his special teams’ production. He mostly has played as a special teamer throughout his career and can do well to help to field goal unit and punt return units improve.